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Trump Amps It Up: Insulting Protesters, Putting Reporters In A 'Pen'

Law enforcement officers escort a man from a campaign event for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Worcester, Mass., on Wednesday.
Steven Senne

Donald Trump continued to ratchet up his fiery rhetoric at a campaign event in Massachusetts Wednesday evening, spouting off at his GOP presidential rivals and touting his plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

With the debate raging over how to handle Syrian refugees after last week's terrorist attacks in Paris, the billionaire has raised alarm bells that their migration could be a way for ISIS to infiltrate the U.S.

Before the rally, Trump repeated a claim that President Obama wants to bring 250,000 Syrian refugees into the country, which he has followed up by asking if Obama is "insane." The administration has a plan to bring in just 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year. Fewer than 2,000 refugees have entered the country from Syria since 2012, as the screening process takes 18 to 24 months on average.

Trump argued that most Syrian refugees were "tough-looking cookies" and not women and children — even though the State Department says only 2 percent of Syrian refugees are men of fighting age — and he said their entry "could be the great Trojan horse of all time."

In an interview with Yahoo News the next day, the real estate magnate said new threats from ISIS could require special surveillance of Muslims, including a possible database to monitor them.

He was interrupted sporadically by protesters who were in the crowd of 10,500, holding signs that read "Migrant Lives Matter" and "Immigrant Lives Matter," according to the Washington Post.

But once reporters there tried to document the protesters being hauled away, they were stopped by Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who yelled that the media had to stay in their "pen."

When CNN reporter Noah Gray tried to move to film the protesters, Lewandowski turned to spokeswoman Hope Hicks and said, "Hey: Tell Noah, get back in the pen or he's f****** blacklisted," according to the Post.

His campaign walked back a claim to reporters that they were being quarantined because of security concerns (Trump recently received Secret Service protection). Earlier this year, Democrat Hillary Clinton was criticized for using a rope to corral press trailing her in a parade.

Wednesday evening's tirades didn't seem to be as bizarre as a speech last week where he compared his chief rival, Ben Carson, to a child molester because he had written he had a "pathological temper" when he was younger. And, slipping in the polls in Iowa, Trump unloaded that voters would have to be "stupid [to] believe this crap" as Carson leapfrogged him in the state.

Here are some of Trump's other most dazzling insults from Wednesday:

On Florida Sen. Marco Rubio: "Oh, Rubio, he's the next Reagan. He's no Reagan — that I can tell you. ... I mean, my hair is better than his hair, that I can tell you."

On former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:"Doesn't have the strength or stamina to be president."

On protesters: "You know, it's amazing. I mentioned food stamps, and that guy who was seriously overweight went crazy," Trump said of one man who was dragged away, according to Boston.com. "You are the cancer that is killing democracy."

On Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was swapped in a prisoner release and is now being charged with desertion: Trump called Bergdahl "a dirty, rotten traitor" then motioned to a man who was shaping his hands like a gun, according to the Post.

"What do we do with Sgt. Bergdahl 50 years ago?" Trump asked. He then pointed his own hand like a gun, and added "That's right. Boom. Boom! ... Boom, he's gone. He's gone!"

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: November 18, 2015 at 11:00 PM CST
A previous version of this story incorrectly said that Donald Trump had shaped his hands like a gun when discussing what should happen to Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. In fact it was someone else at the event who did that.
Nov. 20, 2015 We need to correct a correction we added to this post on Thursday. We originally said on this page that Donald Trump had shaped his hands like a gun when discussing what should happen to Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Owing to a misunderstanding on Thursday, we removed that reference and added a correction that said Trump had not done that. In fact, as video of the event shows, Trump made a gun sign with his right hand and said, "Boom. Boom!" as he discussed what he thought should have been done to Bergdahl.
Jessica Taylor is a political reporter with NPR based in Washington, DC, covering elections and breaking news out of the White House and Congress. Her reporting can be heard and seen on a variety of NPR platforms, from on air to online. For more than a decade, she has reported on and analyzed House and Senate elections and is a contributing author to the 2020 edition of The Almanac of American Politicsand is a senior contributor to The Cook Political Report.
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